Occurrence and molecular analysis of Campylobacter in wildlife on livestock farms

Vet Microbiol. 2012 Jun 15;157(3-4):369-75. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2011.12.026. Epub 2011 Dec 29.


Wildlife harbor a variety of Campylobacter spp. and may play a significant role in the transmission of Campylobacter to livestock. Although studies have been conducted on wildlife-associated Campylobacter isolates from farms in other countries, there are little data available for livestock farms in the United States. In addition, the critical questions of whether wildlife harbor Campylobacter that is pathogenic to ruminants and/or antibiotic-resistant Campylobacter have yet to be addressed. We captured wild small mammals (n=142) and small birds (n=188) at livestock farms in central Iowa and sampled them for thermophilic Campylobacter during autumn 2009, spring 2010, and autumn 2010. Overall prevalence was 4.79%, with isolates found only in wild birds. Molecular typing revealed four multilocus sequence types (STs), three of which are novel. The remaining ST (ST-806) was found in two house sparrows and is an ST previously associated with ruminant abortion cases. Further analysis of ST-806 wild bird and ruminant abortion isolates by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, resistance gene location, and antibiotic susceptibility tests indicated that the isolates are nearly identical. This is the first account of isolation of Campylobacter types from wild birds that are known to be pathogenic to ruminants. Furthermore, these same two wild bird isolates are resistant to the antibiotic fluoroquinolone. Our results indicate there is an overall low prevalence of Campylobacter in selected wildlife in Iowa, but suggest that wildlife may play a role in the epidemiology of pathogenic Campylobacter for domestic livestock, and may also serve as a reservoir for antibiotic-resistant Campylobacter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild / microbiology*
  • Bacterial Typing Techniques
  • Birds / microbiology*
  • Campylobacter / classification
  • Campylobacter / drug effects
  • Campylobacter / genetics
  • Campylobacter / isolation & purification*
  • Campylobacter Infections / epidemiology
  • Campylobacter Infections / veterinary*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Pulsed-Field
  • Female
  • Iowa / epidemiology
  • Livestock / microbiology
  • Mammals / microbiology
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Multilocus Sequence Typing
  • Ruminants / microbiology